I kind of already answered your question because I wrote the article you linked to, but I think the question needs to be answered in a bigger context. I have mainly used vocabulary apps to increase passive vocabulary as quickly as possible. I added almost 30,000 items (characters and words) when I studied full time. That’s unique characters/words, not different cards (writing, definition, etc.) for the same characters/words.
That approach makes sense if you’re also reading and listening a lot, because you then learn how to use all these characters and words in context. It’s not enough to read your textbook and listen to a podcast here and there for this strategy to work, though, you need massive amounts of input. I read 25 books in Chinese in 2013, for example, and that only counts books, not articles, single book chapters, reports etc…
Then there are those who swear by sentence-based approaches with SRS (spaced repetition software), including cloze deletion in paragraphs and so on. The difference is that now you’re putting a lot of your reading practice along with vocabulary learning in an app.
Does that work? Sure it does, it’s just a different way of using learning tools. Maybe it works better if you can’t or won’t rely on heavy listening or reading (i.e. you plan to learn how to use things through active recall in an app, rather than listening to the radio and reading books).
You could use both approaches at once, which is probably the best approach. Focus on sentences if there’s something on the sentence level you want to learn (such as what objects go with which verbs, or sentence patterns in general), but focus on words if they are easy to use (you don’t need a sentence to learn 桌子).
There’s also the matter of how much information to process on each flashcard. Do you want it to be blazing fast, going through twenty or more cards per minute? Or do you want to spend a few minutes reading a paragraph on each card?
Personally, I don’t want to spend hours in an app reading cloze deletion sentences. I’d much rather have very fast reviews focusing on passive vocabulary, then use other means to learn how words are used. Massive amounts of listening and reading have many, many advantages beyond vocabulary acquisition, so it’s advisable anyway.
The only exception for me is handwriting, which can’t be done passively, meaning that if you care about being able to write by hand, you have to use active recall of some kind, which is why I still spend significant amounts of time in Skritter! I have described what role Skritter plays in my end-game strategy here: